Letter to a colleague

Dear C,

It’s probably important for me to add to this, to your note about last April’s conference.

Since the Wednesday after April 9th, Rectory School has been holding its own conversation on teaching. It’s been our own mini-symposium. Each week at 7am, one of Rectory’s teachers has been in the hot seat — ahem, I mean, been the guest of honor.

Usually four or five faculty show up, with another three or four teachers arriving between 7:30 and 8:00 to keep the conversation going. The early morning conversation focuses on that one teacher, and what they do; I’ve attached a .pdf file of the questions that I ask. You can see that many of the questions come right out of the Teaching Symposium on April 9. Guests at these early morning sessions have ranged from a first-year teacher to a third-year teacher, to the headmaster.

At 10:00am, when the students are at recess or other morning activities, there is a second meeting, where we discuss a specific topic. These have ranged from classroom discipline, to tests and quizzes and aspects of children’s lives that we find puzzling. On several occasions now, teachers have come in to report on the conferences they have attended or the modifications they have made in their classrooms to assist specific students.

At 6:30pm, several of the boarding faculty now meet after dinner on Wednesdays as well — to talk about teaching and coaching and the specific parts of boarding school life that we find complicated or confusing. Again, this conversation has a guest of honor. The head of our school’s leadership program, a ten-year veteran of school life, a dormitory master, and our “science teacher who blows things up” have all been guests for coffee or dessert.

What we have found is that conversation with adults about our professional lives is much better than reading a book or a memo. At one recent Wednesday morning, just two weeks ago, we had over 200 years of combined teaching experience in the same room! One morning, we relived a railroad trip through South America with the chair of our English department; another, we were regaled with tales of working at the Pentagon during the Korean War.

I am humbled profoundly, and honored, to discover that I work with wonderful, amazing master teachers… and I am sure that all of you
do, too.


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